Writing a Marathon

Tomorrow, thousands of runners will set out to finish the Marine Corps Marathon. Let’s be clear. I will likely never run a marathon in my lifetime. If I ever signed up for a 10K, I’d be shocked. There are many reasons including an intense dislike for running, but I’m also sure it would not be the best thing for my knees. I’m just not built for running and prefer speed walking. But I’ve also never aspired to run any sort of race let alone a marathon. So, I don’t think I’ll feel any regret about it when reach the end of my life. That said, I can appreciate the value of marathons–the training, the focus, the journey and finally the accomplishment. Running a marathon represents the completion of something extraordinarily difficult, something that requires someone to push beyond perceived physical limitations and to test out one’s endurance and determination.

In my own way, I’ve done marathon-like activities in my career and personal life. In 2010, I completed my PhD dissertation, which was a research and writing marathon that lasted for over five years. And just last week, I completed the first draft of my first novel (115K words)-The Nuclear ConspiracyThat was a year-long marathon that required me to write at least 2,200 words per week. Okay, that’s not a lot every week, but I had to stick to it. I had to make the commitment and make time in my life to accomplish this long-term goal. Every week, I was training for something bigger.

Next month, during National Novel Writing Month, I’m taking things to the next level. For the month of November, I will be participating in a writing marathon called NaNoWriMo with about 300,000 other writers. We will be writing 50,000 words in one month. I learned about NanoWrimo from Joanna Penn’s Creative Penn podcast. This tradition began in 1999 and has grown significantly in size since then. If you’re interested in joining us, it’s not too late to register and be part of this crazy feat.

Most writers start a new novel for the challenge, but I have decided to write 50,000 words on The Bionic BugThe novel takes place in Washington D.C. in 2020. Lara Kingsley, a private detective, and her brilliant side kick, Vikrama Abhay, Georgetown law student, race to unravel the strange mystery of her friend’s sudden death before it’s too late. As the investigation unfolds, Lara finds herself becoming deeply entangled in a new technological world and has to seek help from her ex-boyfriend FBI special agent to solve the crime. Lara must risk everything in order to prevent an evil madman from taking more lives.

This novel started out as an experiment in crowdsourcing and choosing your own adventure. I would write a scene, post it online and then ask my readers to vote for one of three options for Lara. I’ve only written three scenes so far, which you can read on my website or at Wattpad. I will continue this experiment as much as possible in November. However, since I’m revving my writing process into high gear, it will take place at a much faster speed. In order to write 50,000 words, I will have to write on average 1,667 words per day. I plan to continue my experiment as much as possible, but I will not offer options for every scene, especially at the beginning of the month. But I hope that my readers will continue to stay with me on this journey. I will post everything online as I go so I hope that you all follow me on this journey.

Ready. Set. Go.

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the National Defense University, the Department of Defense or the U.S. Government.

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